Along the white sands of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, there’s endless time for seashell collecting, sunbathing, Gulf-wave splashing, and floating in the pool. If you did nothing else on your trip to Southwest Florida, that wouldn’t be too shabby.
But stay at the right resort, and you can upgrade your itinerary with high-energy activities, fine dining, and maybe even the chance to pick up a new hobby or two. From candlelit dinners on the sand to sailing school, here’s where to stay — and play — on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.
South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island
How many resorts can you think of that are set on a 330-acre nature preserve? How many also have two and a half miles of private beachfront for guests to enjoy?
That sure narrows down the list — mainly to Captiva Island’s South Seas Island Resort, where you could opt for a hotel suite, a one-to-three-bedroom villa, or a beach home. And with the resort’s nature-forward setup, guests can take a beachcombing class with a marine-science educator, grab a kayak and paddle toward that pod of dolphins spotted from shore, or admire the herons strolling by while holding a pose during Ambu Yoga on the sand. At South Seas, it’s all about relaxing into nature’s quiet thrills.
To work on your game, enroll in a private tennis or pickleball lesson led by a professional at the Blackwood Tennis Academy, or play a round of golf on a course named one of the “Top Five Short Courses” in the world. And how’s this for a unique vacation opportunity: With the onsite Offshore Sailing School, guests can book lessons from certified sailing instructors, no sailing knowledge or experience required. You’ll learn to sail across five days, going home with far more than a souvenir.
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Fort Myers Beach
The beachfront Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina knows lounging on its stretch of beautiful white sand can be hypnotizing — but if you want to break the spell, start the day with a complimentary breakfast at Jack’s Restaurant and then head to the beach for a volleyball game or a float on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Of course, you could go bigger and rent a paddleboat or sailboat, too, hitting those teal waves right outside your front door for a truly unforgettable afternoon.
Another unique opportunity for guests is Pink Shell’s 90-minute Dolphin Adventure Tour, where you’ll get the chance to zoom on a WaveRunner across Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Make sure to throttle down from time to time to soak in that fresh Gulf breeze and see if you can spot dolphins, manatees, and other sea life in their native habitat. (Skilled guides are available to lead a tour, if you need a pointer or two.)
At the end of your fast-paced day, you can look forward to kicking back at one of the resort’s three Gulf-front pools, with a cocktail at the beach bar, or at your spacious beachfront room or villa. Or, if visiting for a special occasion, there’s nothing quite as romantic as a candlelit dinner on the beach, complete with four courses, white-glove service, and a curated wine list. It’s Pink Shell’s specialty.
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, Sanibel Island
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa unfurls on a beautiful mile of pristine white sand. You’ll get stellar views of those Gulf waters from the Sea Breeze Café, one of the most scenic waterfront dining spots in Southwest Florida, and from your own one-, two-, or three-bedroom suite. In other words, when you want an R&R kind of day to the tune of the waves, you’ve got it made anywhere at Sundial. Sunbathing, unplugging, strolling on the beach, swimming in warm Gulf waters — this spot exudes an ambiance of romance and calm, where phones get turned off, conversation ignited, and balance restored.
But the resort is also a fantastic home base for exploring Sanibel Island. Guests can sign up for seasonal guided beach walks (in partnership with Sanibel Sea School), take complimentary bicycles for a ride, or turn things up a notch by renting a gas-powered golf cart for the day — they’re street-legal and can seat up to six! Whether it’s by bike or golf cart, scope out the Sanibel Island Lighthouse, the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, and the Islander Trading Post, an eclectic antique store. And on Sundays, swing by the Sanibel Island Farmers Market for fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade crafts, and baked goods to take back to your suite’s kitchen.
Another thing that sets this property apart: its connection to Southwest Florida history. Bailey’s Marketplace, a family-owned grocery store that dates back to 1899, has an outpost at Sundial. Historic yet tech-savvy, the marketplace offers grocery delivery right to your suite without a delivery fee. (You can even order groceries from your phone.) That means more time for admiring those views from your suite while you cook up a gourmet dinner!
DiamondHead Beach Resort, Fort Myers Beach
At DiamondHead Beach Resort, you could be tempted to spend a lot of time in your home-away-from-home digs. The resort’s Gulf-front accommodations include 124 generous one-bedroom suites with private balconies, and select suites feature a kitchenette and cozy living room. You could while away weeks simply watching the sunset, reconnecting and slowing down, and devoting hours to enjoying your morning coffee in the ocean breeze. Upping the feel-good factor are the resort’s two restaurants (one of which offers seating right on the sand!) and the sparkling beachfront pool deck, complete with beverage service.
It’s not all about kicking back and relaxing, though. Odds are you’ll be drawn to the parasailing, jet-skiing, or other high-octane water activities found in this part of Fort Myers Beach. Get the blood pumping and the sweat pouring as you earn your dip into the refreshing Gulf waters. Or, for a more relaxing workout, hit the local paths on one of the resort’s bikes.
But heck, don’t stop there. Having DiamondHead as your home base makes it easy to explore Fort Myers Beach and beyond, especially considering it’s on the local trolley route. Other stops include Lovers Key State Park and Times Square, a lively plaza with restaurants, shops, live music, as well as a fishing pier where you can cast a line and try your luck at landing the night’s dinner.
In other words, the right resort can certainly take you places on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Which one will you choose?